A sports card and collectibles digital app designer has decided to build a real-life store — and has selected Wynwood as its flagship location.
The app maker, Loupe, opened its combination retail shop and content studio at 285 NW 26th St. Thursday. The company, which was born in Los Angeles, has already raised at least $15 million in venture funding. (A loupe is a small magnifying glasses collectors use to look at jewelry, cards, and other collectibles.)
“Miami is a huge sports town, both for pro and college,” said Loupe founder and CEO Eric Doty. “And also, there’s a big lack of sports card and memorabilia stores here. That’s what we’re aligned with — for sports, and tech, it’s the perfect city to set up shop.”
It’s an opportunistic time to be setting up a card-trading store, as sports cards have seen a sudden resurgence in value. The pandemic caused many to rediscover their collections. At the same time, a new class of investors had begun plowing capital into card collectibles, reframing their value as one would fine art or wine.
The upshot: U.S. sales for trading cards on eBay went up 142% in 2020.
The Loupe Sports Cards app functions, in Doty’s, words, as a card show in its users’ pockets. At any given time, a half-dozen trading shows are live-streamed.
“At all times, you can buy, sell, trade and talk about sports cards,” Doty said.
So why open a store? Doty said beyond simply visibility, the collectibles community is a tactile one. He compared it to the trend among modern streetwear shops to open up high-end storefronts.
“It’s about the culture,” he said. “If you like collectibles, you like sports, even video games (Loupe also does Pokemon collecting), we have lounge spaces, we want you to come in, maybe get a beverage, open some cards and talk to us about how much you think they’re worth.”
Currently, the store’s expensive item right is a Topps Jay-Z autographed card valued over $25,000.
“While we do focus on sports cards, trading cards can include many subject including pop culture personalities,” Doty said.
Other items are on the way that are as much as 10-times that.. The average price in the store is between $50 and $500.
“We take a lot of pride in and receive a lot of compliments on the fact that we price our items a lot lower than you’d find at a lot of local card shops,” Doty said.
But the store is only part of the new location’s purpose: In the back sits a production room where Loupe plans to create and stream digital content.
Albert Garcia, chairman of the Wynwood Business Improvement District, said Loupe’s experiential business model fits in nicely with the neighborhood’s aesthetic and vision.
“The traditional, ‘two-dimensional’ form of retail, where you simply grab an item off the shelf and check out, is a dying breed,” Garcia said. “In Wynwood, what a lot of small business owners and concepts have understood is, you have to offer something unique and distinct...most retailers in Wynwood have pivoted to an experiential model, coming into immersive environments that are highly curated.”